For most people, the usual image that comes to mind of beehives is one of a row or two of hives parked out in a paddock, or maybe one or two individual hives tucked away in the corner of a suburban block. So, for something completely different…

Midday Saturday 9th December, a dozen or so ABA members gathered along a rather warm and partly overgrown fire trail in Sydney’s Royal National Park to retrieve a number of abandoned hives. Fairly dense eucalypt heathland isn’t where you expect to find half a dozen or so hives but they had been discovered and reported to National Parks by a bushwalker. We’d been co-opted to remove the bees and the hives, plus any associated rubbish. Whilst the majority of members present set to work dismantling old hives, several of us ventured shoulder deep into the native scrub in search of more “lost” hives. One member had a Google map image which clearly showed the hives we knew of but also had features that indicated the possibility of other hives nearby. Dense scrub and very warm conditions made for a most uncomfortable and ultimately, fruitless search. So back to assisting the others dealing with the known hives.

Left be in the scrub for about 25+ years, these bees where pretty much as wild as they come. And they weren’t taking too kindly to us breaking open their homes and moving them into nice brand new hives. Clearly showing evidence of bushfire, the hive boxes were in extremely poor condition, burnt and eaten through by ants, it was amazing that the boxes were still holding their shape. With a process decided upon, bees were shaken from old frames onto new foundation and placed in new hive boxes. Old boxes and frames (riddled with wax moth) were taken out and stacked into a trailer for later disposal. In all but one instance, all queens were transferred into the new hives.

As the afternoon wore on, the newly assembled hives were moved out to the fire trail to await transport back to the Club at Sutherland. A number of members decided that it was time to head back. A few hives were packed into the back of a ute and the trailer of garbage (all 260kg of it as it turned out) returned to the apiary at Sutherland. Others remained out in the park (amongst a rather large cloud of bees) waiting on Bruce White to arrive and assist with finalizing transport of the remaining hives.

Sunday morning was a time for disposal of the rubbish removed the previous day. Lamorna and I hauled it around to the Lucas Heights Waste Recovery site (aka The TIP!), got weighed in and eventually weighed out – which is how we determined the weight. Once backed up to the dump site, hauling off the tarpaulin caused a mass of bees to erupt from beneath it, causing something of a stir amongst the other people disposing of rubbish nearby. Lamorna and I proceeded to throw old hives, frames etc over the edge into the bin, folded the tarp and were on our way.

Many Thanks to all members who helped with this huge task. Especially Ian Chalson who wrote this piece and provided the photos.